Stats show over half a million cattle were born in Scotland in 2017 – our inspectors visit over 90% of cattle farms across the country in an average year to ensure their welfare.

Through our work with Quality Meat Scotland, the Scottish SPCA has helped to drive up improvements in cattle welfare for many years. 

What welfare standards should cattle have?

We expect anyone working with cattle to ensure all animals can experience the ‘Five Freedoms’. This framework is the basis for assessing the welfare of cattle. The Five Freedoms make up basics needs for an animal and are:

  • Its need for a suitable environment – by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area; 
  • Its need for a suitable diet – by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour; 
  • Its need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns – by providing sufficient space and proper facilities; 
  • Any need it has to be housed with, or apart from, other animals – by providing company of the animals’ own kind, if appropriate; 
  • Its need to be protected from suffering, injury and disease – by ensuring conditions and treatment to avoid suffering, including mental suffering.

What do we expect of people who own cattle?

Anyone who owns or keeps cattle should have a sound understanding of the Five Freedoms. We expect any cattle farmer to make sure they clearly understand the environment their cattle are kept in and know the limits in terms of the volume of cattle they are able to keep.

Cattle owners should have a good knowledge of husbandry systems and ensure everyone working with the cattle is well-trained in a host of skills, including handling and ear-tagging. A responsible owner should make sure cattle are inspected on a daily basis and the person doing so is capable of spotting any signs of ill-health.

Got concerns about cattle?

If you come across cattle and you’ve got concerns about its welfare, please contact our confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999.

As well as preventing cruelty, we work alongside farmers to make sure they can manage their cattle effectively and ensure the highest welfare standards possible are achieved.